E3 2019 highlights: The 15 best announcements, trailers, and games
Even without Sony in attendance, E3 2019 hosted tons of reveals, surprises, celebrity guests, and of course, games. Microsoft and Nintendo brought their A-game for their press conferences, and major publishers like EA, Square Enix, Bethesda, and Ubisoft also put forward some intriguing offerings. Below, EW sorts through the mayhem of the show to bring you the very best trailers and announcements that the biggest event in gaming had to offer.
Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order (Nov. 15, 2019)
Game director Stig Asmussen of Respawn Entertainment uses some lofty comparisons to describe the gameplay and level design of the next AAA Star Wars title. According to Asmussen, the games that most informed the development of Fallen Order were Metroid, The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker, Dark Souls, and Bloodborne. Dropping the names of some of the greatest action-adventure games ever released may be a bit risky, and it remains to be seen if the game can live up to the designers’ influences, but EW’s early hands-on gameplay session at E3 confirmed that the studio is onto something with exciting potential.
Cyberpunk 2077 (April 16, 2020)
Keanu Reeves! Seriously though, Keanu Reeves! All that aside, Cyberpunk’s hype has been off the charts for years now, and for good reason. As CD PROJEKT RED’s first major action RPG since the conclusion of the revered Witcher franchise, Cyberpunk is being designed with impressive scope, character customization, and branching story lines, not to mention heaps of grungy, neon-lit style. The E3 story trailer was moody and slick, and the gameplay, while still in need of some cleaning up before 2020, looks like it will offer plenty of interesting playstyle options.
The Legend of Zelda: Breath of the Wild sequel (TBA)
The game that robbed men and women of their significant others for weeks on end is getting a sequel. Congrats! Pokemon are great (we’d pay for a Detective Pikachu-SVU crossover) and Luigi farting out his own ghost in Luigi’s Mansion 3 raised brows for sure, but the hoped-for news of the Nintendo briefing came with the Breath of the Wild sequel. Not much is known (like, can we even play as Zelda?!), but the first one is so good we’re not even questioning whether to shower Nintendo in a flurry of dollar bills. It’s a matter of when. —Nick Romano
Elden Ring (TBA)
One year after revealing Sekiro: Shadows Die Twice at Microsoft’s 2018 E3 conference, Hidetaka Miyazaki and the FromSoftware team sent a new offering to the same venue. Elden Ring, written in conjunction with Game of Thrones mastermind George R.R. Martin, appears to be set in a dark fantasy world, where a mystical object called the Elden Ring has been shattered, casting the world into chaos. Miyazaki has teased that the game will be heavily influenced by Dark Souls, and that it will be the largest game the studio has produced. For those out there yelling “Finish Winds of Winter,” pipe down, this is better.
Final Fantasy VII Remake (March 3, 2020)
Up until the Marvel’s Avengers trailer at the end of Square Enix’s E3 event, it was the all-Final Fantasy, all-the-time show. An update to Final Fantasy XIV and a remaster of Final Fantasy VIII pleased franchise fans, but the star of the FF lineup was Final Fantasy VII Remake. Even players unfamiliar with the classic version of FFVII, such as myself, will appreciate the new game’s outstanding presentation, scale (two Blu-rays worth of content!), and tight hybrid realtime/JRPG combat. Taking on a giant Scorpion Sentinel as Cloud and Barret felt surprisingly good, and I’m looking forward to digging in deeper.
The Legend of Zelda: Link’s Awakening (Sept. 20, 2019)
Another high-profile remake/reimagining of a classic game from a storied franchise, Link’s Awakening looks and feels excellent. Featuring adorable new chibi character designs, freshly recorded music, and the addition of a dungeon creator, Link’s Awakening takes the solid foundation of old-school, fast-paced top-down gameplay and elevates it to a new level. Link’s journey to escape Koholint Island looks like it will be more than enough to keep Zelda aficionados happy until more info comes out about Breath of the Wild 2.
Marvel’s Avengers (May 15, 2020)
When the Avengers videogame reveal finally came, we… had feelings. After Marvel’s Spider-Man, the first major Marvel Comics-based console game in God knows how long, the graphics for this next endeavor felt meh, but the potential offered hope. It’s clear the developers around this Square Enix title are still, well, in development (hence the hands-off demos at E3), but a strong narrative in a story-driven RPG can make up for visuals at this early stage in the game. Plus, Crystal Dynamics promises this is just the beginning: A “growing roster of heroes” (and settings) will be added over “multiple years” of content. So even though these Avengers avatars are the equivalent of Cristiano Ronaldo’s warped bust, there’s more to come. —NR
Doom Eternal (Nov. 22, 2019)
With Elder Scrolls 6 and Starfield sitting out this year’s E3, Doom Eternal was the unchallenged headliner of Bethesda’s showcase (Wolfenstein: Youngblood had a strong showing as well). The publisher, along with developer id Software, presented a brand-new story trailer spanning hell, heaven, and everywhere in between; tons of gameplay footage; details of an asymmetric multiplayer mode that pits two player-controlled demons against one Slayer; and most importantly, hands-on time with the demon-crunching action. Fans of Bethesda’s rebooted Doom series can look forward to Eternal in the fall.
Project Scarlett and Halo Infinite (holiday 2020)
Toward the end of the company’s E3 conference, Microsoft released the first information on its upcoming next-gen console, Project Scarlett, which will be four times as powerful as its current top-tier hardware, the Xbox One X. Aside from tech specs like 8K support, 120 fps frame rates, and ray-tracing support, Microsoft also announced, as a nod to the release of Halo with the original Xbox, that the franchise’s next installment, Halo Infinite, will be a launch title when Scarlett hits the market in the holiday season of 2020.
The Outer Worlds (Oct. 25, 2019)
This sci-fi RPG from Obsidian, the development team behind Fallout: New Vegas, made its world premiere at last year’s Game Awards, but E3 gave the developer a chance to show off a little bit more of how the game will play. Obsidian’s Fallout background shines through, but even at this early stage, the game feels more put together, in terms of both tone and mechanical polish, than some of that franchise’s games at launch. The Outer Worlds has the potential to be the best non-Fallout Fallout game in years.
Dying Light 2 (spring 2020)
CD PROJEKT RED wasn’t the only Polish developer with something exciting to show at E3. Techland returned to the show with Dying Light 2, reviving the combination of intense combat and first-person parkour zombie survival that made the first game a hit. This time around, the developers are also focused on creating a setting that reacts in significant ways to the choices the protagonist, Aiden, makes. Entire regions of the open world become accessible based on player decisions, and the designers claim that in any given playthrough, a player will only see about 50 percent of the game’s total content.
Watchdogs: Legion (March 6, 2020)
The underlying concept of Watchdogs: Legion is intriguing. There’s no one character who serves as the protagonist, and any NPC throughout the game’s version of a near-future London is recruitable to turn into a playable character. Finding the people with the right skills to accomplish the goals of resistance group DedSec and winning them over to the organization appears to be a large part of the title’s gameplay loop. While a player can amass a large roster of recruits, if a character dies, they’re gone for good.
I am ready for this game to make me feel so many feelings. The beautifully hand-drawn sidescroller, featured during the Microsoft conference at E3, looks joyous and melancholy, wholesomely examining the concept of death and learning to say goodbye to those who are passing on. As Stella, ferrymaster to the afterlife, players will manage both the construction of a ship and relationships with its passengers while guiding those characters across unknown waters to the great beyond. The trailer alone has me on the verge of tearing up.
Sky: Children of the Light (July 11, 2019)
The latest project from thatgamecompany, developers of highly acclaimed titles Journey and Flower, leans into some of the themes that make Journey a touching experience and aims to bring people together in-game and out. The game, which releases first on mobile and will hit consoles later, features mechanics like holding hands, hugging, and sharing light from candles, and creator Jenova Chen hopes it will bring out the best in human behavior. Up to eight players will be able to fly together to unravel the mystery of the artistically crafted world.
Animal Crossing: New Horizons (March 20, 2020)
Get hyped for a new Animal Crossing, but be prepared to wait a few more months than anticipated.
Star Wars Jedi: Fallen Order